Kashrut Policy Guidelines

Beth Am Synagogue Food and Kashrut Policy Guidelines
Revised October, 2019 ~ Tishrei 5780
Rabbi Daniel Cotzin Burg

“One thing you should do is keep a kosher home, so anyone can eat in your home”
— Dr. Louis Kaplan

Guiding Principles:

  • Beth Am is a big-tent congregation with various levels of knowledge, observance and Jewish practice. This diversity is a strength: allowing us to form a cohesive and mission-oriented community from our erev rav (mixed multitude).
  • Beth Am has been and continues to be a congregant-driven shul; our diverse community is one that feeds one another!
  • Beth Am has, for close to 20 years, been affiliated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and its rabbi is an ordained Conservative rabbi. This affiliation means the rabbi and the shul have a responsibility to uphold halakha as determined by the Mara D’atra (lit. “master of the place,” primary legal authority – i.e. Rabbi Burg). It also means there are broader Jewish communal expectations for certain halakhic standards of practice from current and prospective members and visitors.

 

Goals of this Document:

With the completion of Beth Am’s Phase I renovation project (especially, our new catering/warming kitchen), we will:

  1. Concretize and communicate policies with regard to food and kashrut
  2. Determine how best to honor all of the following:
    1. Diverse congregant needs and practices
    2. Commitment to Jewish values of Shabbat and kashrut
    3. Congregant participation

 

Our Practice:                                                                                                     

  • Beth Am’s kitchen is a designated kosher facility with primary intended use for storing/warming dairy/pareve food but with the ability to serve meat as well. Any food brought into the kitchen must come from a facility with kosher supervision. Ensuring the kosher sourcing of food products and prepared food will be the rabbi’s responsibility with support from the executive director.
  • Access to the kitchen will be limited to specific designated staff/clergy/volunteers with training in kosher food prep.
  • The executive director (or his designee) and the kiddush chair will work collaboratively with the rabbi’s guidance and direction to implement policy.
  • Beth Am will accommodate occasional fleishig (meat) service from certified kosher restaurants or caterers. We will also maintain adequate solutions for surfaces outside the kitchen (e.g. fleishig kids trays for high chairs).
  • Beth Am will continue its longstanding tradition of potluck kiddush luncheons, typically on the first Shabbat of each month. We strongly encourage broad participation from our entire congregation, regardless of observance.
  • Beth Am will implement the following simple system for staging meals with two sets of signage indicating:
    • Pareve or dairy food prepared in a kosher commercial kitchen or package goods with a hekhsher.
      • May be stored, warmed and staged in the kitchen
    • Homemade pareve or dairy food. This may be food prepared according to Beth Am’s guidelines with kosher ingredients in anyone’s home.
      • May be stored, warmed and staged in the kitchen annex
    • Similar to option 2 above will be food from pre-approved commercial vendors, such as take-out vegetarian pizza or vegan/veggie/fish prepared foods without kosher certification but containing no prohibited ingredients.
      • Community groups like RHIC or UEMNA will need to follow these guidelines, even if those attending are mostly not Jewish.
    • Non-kosher items (e.g. pork, shellfish, non-kosher poultry/beef, meat and dairy combinations like cheeseburgers, etc.) are NOT permitted* at Beth Am spaces or functions.

*Exception: sealed, packaged foods for purposes of donation to the needy with special dispensation from the rabbi.

  • For functions like b’nai mitzvah and weddings, we encourage use of kosher caterers and our executive director will maintain a list of approved kosher caterers.
  • Recognizing the cost of kosher catering can be prohibitive for some, and understanding our diversity of practice, we will also permit specific approved non-kosher caterers who understand how to prepare ingredient-kosher food. When using one of these caterers, families will be expected to provide some amount of comparable kosher supervised fare for those in our community who observe kashrut more strictly.
  • When providing food for classes, meetings, kiddush luncheons and events, Beth Am will strive to provide kosher supervised food whenever possible. When budget or other circumstances makes this onerous, we will hold ourselves to the same standards of providing adequate amounts of clearly-labeled, hekhsher-kosher food for those who need it.
  • Gatherings at people’s homes or outside facilities (when they are official Beth Am events) will be expected to abide by similar guidelines. Only ingredient-kosher food should be served, and a reasonable effort should be made to accommodate those with stricter levels of kashrut observance.